In the middle of a high-altitude field, towering above the grasses and flowers, looms the elusive green gentian.
It flourishes in high-altitude, harsh, rugged terrains where few other plants can survive, lives up to 80 years, and blooms only once in its lifetime.
A Rare Beauty
The green gentian stands out for its striking emerald-green color, a rare trait among the gentian family. With vibrant, glossy leaves and delicate, bell-shaped flowers that boast shades ranging from lime green to deep forest hues, this plant's beauty is further enhanced by its preference for growing in the most remote and untouched corners of wilderness.
As one of nature's most alluring spectacles, the green gentian showcases the beauty and resilience of the natural world, making it a prized discovery for those fortunate enough to encounter it.
The magic of the green gentian is not just in its appearance but also in the timing of its bloom. The plant's short flowering season usually occurs during late spring and early summer when the snow recedes and temperatures rise. This is when the green gentian, also known as 'monument plant', lives 20 to 60 years but blooms only once, sometimes reaching nearly 10 feet, before it dies.
Green gentian looks similar to the noxious plant, Mullein. You can tell the two apart by looking at the leaves. Mullein has soft, fuzzy leaves and yellow flowers while the desirable gentian’s leaves are smooth and the flower is a light green. It’s a source of food for wildlife.
Like many rare and exquisite species, the green gentian faces challenges related to its survival. Human activities, including habitat destruction and climate change, pose significant threats to its delicate ecosystem. Conservation efforts are vital to safeguarding this precious botanical gem for future generations to appreciate and cherish.
What to know
The green gentian is flowering in Colorado this summer, particularly in the mountains near Aspen, along the river walk in Breckenridge, in Routt County (Steamboat), and in the wildflower meadows around Crested Butte.
This plant bloom typically occurs four to five years after a good snow year, and begins to form about three years before actually blooming. The historical snowpack in 2019 is likely the reason for the bloom this year.
Learn more here.
To see closeup photos of this plant click here.